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Oren Ambarchi's Black Truffle Records "experimental/improv/noise/abstract/etc" label. Big reissues and Aussie relations.
David Rosenboom's legendary Brainwave Music, originally released on A.R.C. Records in 1975. This is an expanded double-LP edition with over 40 minutes of additional contemporaneous material. Pioneer of live electronics, innovator in music education, collaborator with artists as diverse as Jon Hassell, Jacqueline Humbert, Terry Riley, and Anthony Braxton, Rosenboom is renowned for his ground-breaking experiments with the use of brain biofeedback to control live electronic systems. Each of the three pieces that make up the original Brainwave Music LP integrates biofeedback with musical technology in different ways. In the side-long "Portable Gold and Philosophers' Stones", four performers have electrodes and monitoring devices attached to their bodies to receive information about brainwaves, temperature, and galvanic skin response. This information is analyzed and fed into a complex set of frequency dividers and filters, manned by Rosenboom, but essentially played by each of the performers through their psychophysiological responses.
David Rosenboom – Brainwave Music
Since its debut on two releases from 2011 and 2012 (the live Hit & Run with Joe Talia and the studio Audience of One), the epic structured improvisational piece ‘Knots’ has formed a staple of Oren Ambarchi’s live performances. Like a jazz musician searching for ever-new ways to play a standard, the guitarist has repeatedly brought the piece to life in a variety of settings ranging from guitar/drums duets to a large ensemble replete with string section, with each iteration bringing with it new variations of tone, intensity and character.
Knotting presents the entirety of a beautifully-recorded set performed by Ambarchi and the astonishing Australian- French drum virtuoso Will Guthrie in Geneva in February 2019. Beginning with a delicately played but rapid and insistent ride cymbal rhythm over which Ambarchi layers his signature shimmering Leslie cabinet guitar tones and eventually building, as the piece always does, to a peak of caterwauling harmonic fuzz and thundering drums, the recording also shows the pair taking risks and pushing the piece into new directions, especially in Guthrie’s willingness to let the central pulse momentarily die away or only barely be implied as his main focus of attention turns to instantaneous responses to the subtle rhythmic suggestions of Ambarchi’s shuddering guitar tones. Ambarchi’s performance also demonstrates the ever-evolving nature of his relationship with the guitar, making space for some of the more harmonically uneasy yet subtly lyrical playing (in a tone calling to mind the 80s guitar-synth work of Pat Metheny or Bill Frisell) that has emerged in his recent solo work. Ending with a remarkable coda where Guthrie’s bells and cymbals suddenly transforms the performance into something like Tibetan temple music, Knotting is an essential snapshot of the workof two musicians not content to repeat themselves.
Will Guthrie & Oren Ambarchi – Knotting
Black Truffle is thrilled to announce the reissue of legendary performance and sound artist John Duncan’s forgotten gem Klaar, originally released by Extreme in 1991 and partly created in collaboration with Andrew McKenzie (The Hafler Trio). Duncan is perhaps most well known for his notorious early performances pieces, which explored violence, self-denial, and the establishment of extreme psychological and physical states in both artist and audience.
Alongside these transgressive experiments, Duncan began to create audio works primarily using short wave radio. Where some of Duncan’s earlier recordings are composed of magnificently sculpted but abrasive walls of noise, Klaar, recorded while Duncan was living in Amsterdam, occupies a more meditative territory. Opening with ‘Delta’, which layers long tones seemingly sourced from slowed down voices over a distant, watery field recording, the remainder of the first side is occupied with the epic title piece, which arranges shortwave radio abstraction, vocal experiments, and field recordings (street sounds, fireworks, monastic chants) into an episodic cinema for the ear.
The second side is dominated by the long, brooding ‘The Immense Room’, where layers of shortwave interference and field recordings are gradually built up into a pulsing, wavering bed of sound infused with a subtly disturbing sense of psychological unrest. This rises to the surface near the end of the piece as sexual moans and ominous rumbles crisscross the stereo image before being abruptly brought to a halt. A singular work of electroacoustic composition, Klaar is both compositionally sophisticated and infused with a sense of mystery and a vital reality often lacking in more academic experimental music; it sits proudly alongside contemporaneous recordings by Duncan’s friends and collaborators Jim O’Rourke and Christoph Heemann and is a must for anyone interested in their work. - Francis Plagne
John Duncan – Klaar
“Patience Soup presents the entirety of a live performance from the trio of Oren Ambarchi, Jim O’Rourke, and Japanese underground legend Phew that took place at the Kitakyushu Performing Arts Center on November 4th, 2015.
Known to many listeners outside Japan primarily for her early collaborations with members of Can, Phew has been undergoing something of a creative renaissance in the last few years, prolifically recording and releasing a body of work that strips away the band arrangements present on most of her past releases to focus solely on her raw DIY electronics and possessed vocal stylings. Forming a perfect companion to 2017’s well-received Voice Hardcore, a series of pieces composed of only her processed voice that saw Phew push her work into the most abstract terrain yet, Patience Soup finds the trio inhabiting an uneasy landscape of moans, howls, and smeared electronic sonorities.
Presented in atmosphere-enhancing room fidelity, the set begins in crunching textural abstraction and Phew’s vocal asides, set against a backdrop of Ambarchi’s shimmering Leslie-cabinet guitar tones and O’Rourke’s synthetic slivers. A testament to the risk-taking prowess of these three master improvisers, the performance moves organically from ecstatic crescendos powered by Phew’s processed wails to moments of near-silence in which a translucent veil of lingering electronic tones is gently punctuated by O’Rourke’s chiming piano chords. Constantly shifting, both harmonically and dynamically, Patience Soup is suffused throughout with a haunted energy and shows these three established figures continuing to venture out into uncharted territory.”
Phew / Ambarchi / O'Rourke – Patience Soup
So You ... (Hermes, Orpheus, Eurydice) is a major new work by legendary experimental composer Alvin Lucier. It is an hour long epic that tracks the familiar Orpheus myth from a less familiar perspective: that of Eurydice as imagined by poet H.D.; a Eurydice who rails at Orpheus for his hubris in attempting to rescue her. Two key, and formerly distinct, aspects of Lucier's practice come together in this piece: the exploration of interference patterns in closely tuned intervals, and the exploration of resonant chambers. From speakers mounted inside amphorae a constantly turning braid of beating sine waves trace the descent into the depths of hell, and then the doomed attempt to climb back into life.
Singer Jessika Kenney and long-time Lucier collaborators Anthony Burr and Charles Curtis embody the three title characters in deeply focused performances that assert themselves against the process of the sweep, or become enfolded in it. The electronics were mixed in real time by programmer and equipment designer Tom Erbe.
Alvin Lucier – So You ... (Hermes, Orpheus, Eurydice)
Two Words is the debut release from the duo of Canadian sound artist crys cole and Australian songwriter Francis Plagne. Building on a series of experimental live performances in which the pair toyed with possible common languages for their seemingly unrelated approaches to music, the LP’s two sides present a single piece that brings together abstract texture and slow-motion song in a sonic space where genre cedes to the logic of dreams.
The piece begins with a long, nearly static sequence built primarily from rubbed surfaces, using movement in the stereo field and changing mic placements to create a unified but unstable sonic environment that mimics wind, water, and breath, opening an impossible space between nature and artifice. This artificial outdoors ultimately makes room for Plagne’s electric organ, which sounds a series of melancholic chords to accompany a wandering Wyatt-esque keyboard line as cole’s intimate contact mic textures sizzle and pop in the foreground.
From here the piece makes a surprise detour into song, as the majority of the second side finds Plagne intoning a series of obtuse two word phrases (from a text by Berlin-based poet Marty Hiatt) to an austere organ accompaniment. Working closely with engineer and producer Joe Talia, cole and Plagne extend the studio-as-an-instrument tradition of Teo Macero and This Heat, introducing subtle yet unexpected production shifts that lead the listener from the initial austerity of the organ and voice to an oneiric space of asynchronised vocal doubles, creaking textures, and distant whistling, ultimately arriving at something like an imagined meeting of Organum and Arthur Russell.
Packaged in a suitably mysterious sleeve featuring a lush work by Australian painter Anne Wallace on the front and text by Hiatt on the back, Two Words is both comforting and strange, a disorienting blend of seemingly discrepant elements.
Francis Plagne & Crys Cole – Two Words
"Face Time is the second release from the trio of Oren Ambarchi, Kassel Jaeger, and James Rushford, following on from their 2016 debut Pale Calling. Recorded at the GRM studios in Paris in June 2017, the record immediately returns to the idiosyncratic sound-world of the trio’s first release, a simmering stew of electronic smears, pitched-down animal moans, and mysteriously emotive microtonal organ chords. But before long the record takes an unexpected turn, as sounds that initially enter as occasional percussive pitter-patter build to a halting rhythm. Equally reminiscent of Basic Channel-style dub techno and the sound of a microphone loose in a pocket, these stumbling rhythmic figures provide the framework for the remainder of the record’s two sides, occasionally receding into the background to allow squelching electronics, chiming bells, distorted autoharp, inchoate grunts and the sound of a Cristal Baschet to take centre stage, but each time returning with the inevitability of a an idée fixe.
Eschewing any clear sense of form, the two side-long pieces move seamlessly through episodes with the organic flow of improvisation, embracing the happy accidents of events conjoined by chance and lingering on liminal moments. Gradually washing out into a cavernous roar, the record’s final moments are suddenly enlivened by shimmering metallic percussion and a sequence of woozy synth chords, combining with the muted rhythms and a distant thunderstorm to become a sort of oneiric tribute to the work of Wally Badarou. Bringing together three of contemporary experimental music’s most individual voices, Face Time is an essential slice of outsider electro-acoustics. Cover design by Stephen O’Malley. Mastered by Rashad Becker at D&M, Berlin."
Oren Ambarchi, Kassel Jaeger, James Rushford – Face Time
With This Dazzling, Genuine "Difference" Now Where Shall It Go, Black Truffle presents the 8th full-length release from the trio of Keiji Haino, Jim O’Rourke and Oren Ambarchi. Over the course of four LP sides, the October 2014 concert documented here ranges from rock power trio dynamics to maelstroms of analogue electronics. Once again, the three demonstrate their commitment to pushing into new areas of instrumental exploration and group interaction. Where previous releases from the trio have often featured extended vocal workouts from Haino, at times suggesting abstracted folk song, Haino’s vocalizations here are restricted to the occasional impassioned cry, putting the focus squarely on instrumental interplay. More than ever before, this feels like the work of three equals, with O’Rourke or Ambarchi taking the lead role as often as Haino does.
The four pieces presented here each focus on extended development. The first side is propelled by Ambarchi’s busy, Jack DeJohnette-esque cymbal and tom work, which provides a skittering yet insistent pulse over which Haino and O’Rourke’s FX-saturated strings rise and fall, momentarily converging for passages of near stasis before again pulling apart to continue wandering through areas of gently sour discord; O’Rourke’s use of a six-string bass here boosts the harmonic density of the music and often makes his contribution difficult to distinguish from Haino’s guitar. On the second side, O’Rourke uses his pedals to make his bass near unrecognizable, generating a squelching, harmonically unstable riff that Ambarchi accompanies with a semi-martial snare pattern, the two driving home the idea for the duration of the side while Haino moves between frenetic octave-doubled fuzz riffing and streams of feedback. The third side presents some of the most abstract music heard from the trio since their first release (Tima Formosa, BT04).
Continuing Haino’s explorations of new instruments, the side opens with a long passage of toy piano, an instrument that in his hands is at once childlike and imbued with a mysterious gravity. Alongside occasional vocal interjections from Haino (singing in English), Ambarchi creates delicate textures on cymbals and metallic percussion while O’Rourke, for the first time in this group, performs on the EMS Synthi. In a long passage in the middle of the side, he provides ample evidence of his mastery of the instrument, crafting a complex texture from pointillist stabs and rapid sweeps that possesses the same unpredictable yet controlled feeling of classic live-electronics documents like Pierre Henry’s ‘Corticalart’ series. With Haino joining in with his own electronics, the side eventually builds to a chaotic climax. Beginning with a sequence of ‘fourth world’ drums and flute, the final side unfolds an epic build-up over a hypnotic foundation of pounding toms. Moving from flute to vocals to electronics, Haino eventually picks up the guitar in the second half of the piece, igniting a spectral blur over driving rhythms from bass and drums that eventually builds to a frenzied climax.
Cover image by Traianos Pakioufakis. Design via Stephen O’Malley. Mastered by Rashad Becker at D&M, Berlin May 2017.
Haino / O’Rourke / Ambarchi – This Dazzling, Genuine "Difference" Now Where Shall It Go?
"What happens when Ambarchi is backed up by the world’s greatest monster riff legends from his beloved homeland? Find out in the 2nd volume of this infamous series where endless riffing and ecstatic shredding is the order of the day. Bonus intro track features some band from New York.
Photography by Crys Cole and Theresia Pfaender Design via Stephen O’Malley. Mastered by Rashad Becker at D&M, Berlin."
1. Bamasa (Intro) - 2:262. It Ain’t Humid But It Sure Is Hot - 11:123. Dimestore Medicine - 12:08
Oren Ambarchi – Stacte-Karaoke II
"Hotel Record is the second release from the duo/couple of crys cole and Oren Ambarchi, following on from Sonja Henies Vei 31 (Planam, 2014). Where their debut recording presented a disquieting portrait of the erotic dimension of romantic intimacy, the follow-up continues to explore the pair’s simultaneously musical and romantic relationship in a more subtle fashion, presenting four long-form pieces that touch on the variety of forms the life of this couple takes: as a musical duo, as a pair of travelers to exotic locations, as opponents in a game of cards…
Each of the four tracks presents a distinct sound-world, yet each manages to attain the same suspended, half-sleeping feeling, outlining a space where improbable combinations of the electronic and the acoustic, of extreme closeness and amorphous distance, occur with the gentle insistence of a dream.
The opening Call Myself calmly unfolds a fabric of long tones from electronic organ and guitar, combining the sliding, aleatoric effects of classic David Behrman with a more hands-on feel. Over the top of this slowly shifting tonal bed, cole’s voice mutters unintelligibly into a Buchla synth, teasing the listener by suggesting a meaning that remains always out of the ear’s reach. Francis Debacle (Uno) builds on the foundations of a heavily amplified session of the titular card game, overlaying vocal murmurs and exhalations and mysterious room-sounds to create an impossible aural environment. On Burrata, a palette of vintage 1980s digital synthesizer sounds combined with guitars create an irregular texture of lush chords and bubbling melodic details, into which cole’s voice processed by a vocoder, is interwoven, reading fragments of romantic correspondence. Finally, on Pad Phet Gob, field recordings made in Thailand become an ambiguously acoustic/electronic rainforest, eventually giving way to a mysterious, wavering electronic tone-field punctuated by sibilant, popping mouth-sounds.
Carving out an intimate and human sonic space across a diverse array of compositional approaches, sound sources, fidelities and textures, Hotel Record is the latest dispatch from the continuing explorations of a unique duo. Ambarchi and cole reimagine electro-acoustic music, not simply as ‘abstract’ sound, but as a diary, a love poem, a dream."
Photography by crys cole and design via Stephen O’Malley. Mastered by Rashad Becker at D&M, Berlin February 2017.
Crys Cole & Oren Ambarchi - Hotel Record
Tint is the first new solo recording from Joe Talia in over a decade. Australian-born but now based in Tokyo, Talia is known to many listeners as a drummer (frequently collaborating both live and in the studio with artists such as Oren Ambarchi and Jim O’Rourke) and as a recording and mixing engineer responsible for dozens of releases across the fields of contemporary experimental music, wayward pop, and jazz. Alongside James Rushford, he is also responsible for one of the most legendary releases in the Kye records catalogue, the creaking electronic morass of Manhunter (2013).
Lovingly crafted over many months in his tiny Tokyo studio, Tint is an album-length electroacoustic suite that brings together Talia’s expertise as percussionist, studio engineer, and performer on analogue electronic instruments (primarily modular synth and Revox tape machine). Ranging from minimalist austerity to kosmische lushness, Tint refreshingly refuses the dark and moody sonic palette of much contemporary electroacoustic music in favour of an airy, at times almost weightless sound-world of gliding tones, skittering percussion, and burbling field recordings. Drawing inspiration from Jean-Claude Eloy’s epic concrète love letter to Tokyo, Gaku-No-Michi, Talia makes extensive use of his own recordings of his new home, but removes any sense of audio verite, abstracting them into transparent glosses of outdoor ambience or unidentifiable chimes and creaks. Flowing seamlessly between distinct episodes, Tint is compositionally controlled while retaining a sense of played spontaneity, eventually building to a maelstrom of analogue synth zaps and tape manipulated percussion that reflects Talia’s deep engagement with the relentless yet constantly shifting dynamics of free jazz.
Composed, recorded and mixed by Joe Talia. Tokyo and Melbourne 2016-2017. Cover photo by Joe Talia. Design by Stephen O'Malley. Mastered by Rashad Becker at D&M, Berlin Jan 2018
Joe Talia – Tint
"Ruedi Häusermann’s Galerie Randolph, a masterpiece of solo multi-tracking originally released on CD by Unit Records in 1995. Born in 1948 and residing in the medieval Swiss town of Lenzburg, and virtually unknown outside of the German-speaking world, Häusermann is a multi-instrumentalist and enormously prolific composer who works primarily in the medium of absurdist music-theatre. A virtuoso wind player and free improviser who also composes for traditional classical instrumentation, his work is characterised by subtly surreal humour and the unlikely combination of extended technique and simple, at times almost child-like, melodic ideas. Named after his rehearsal room in Lenzburg, Galerie Randolph uses an enormous array of instruments to craft a work of singular compositional vision.
Each of the twelve pieces begins from the same two elements: a woozy, sliding scatter of tones played on a home-made contraption stretching two guitar strings between the top of Häusermann’s alto saxophone and an amplified cup, and a series of uneasy block chords sounded on accordion and reeds. On each piece these two elements (whose pitch gradually raises throughout the record) are complemented by entirely different material, all of it played by Häusermann.
Ranging from layered flutes to one-finger piano melodies to unintelligible vocals to musique concrete interjections to free jazz saxophone explosions, these additional layers combine with the endlessly returning idée fixe of the foundational elements to create a truly dream-like listening experience, a gently deranged realm in which we lose all sense of linear time. Calling up the most unlikely combinations of possible predecessors – Erik Satie, Gerry Mulligan, and Helmut Lachenmann perhaps? –Galerie Randolph ultimately defies comparison. Almost unknown except to a select group of cognoscenti such as Jim O’Rourke, yet destined to become a cult classic, Galerie Randolph is an instance of that most rare thing: music the likes of which you have never heard before.
Design by Stephen O’Malley. Mastered by Rashad Becker at D&M, Berlin.
Galerie Randolph – Ruedi Häusermann
"The recently composed Ricochet Lady (2016) is the only work for solo acoustic glockenspiel by the American experimental composer Alvin Lucier. Following in the manner of his pieces I am sitting in a room and Vespers, Ricochet Lady embodies Lucier’s approach toward sound’s individual function and mobility within space. This recording defines this approach through four realizations recorded in four dissimilar spaces, ranging from the standard to extraordinary: a university rehearsal hall with walls of drywall and glass, a chapel made of oak and stone, an empty forge and foundry warehouse for steel railway wheels, and a 36-meter tall dilapidated cement grain elevator.
Never one to shy away from convention, Lucier intensifies each performance by instructing that the glockenspiel be placed against a wall or other reflective surface where the soloist systematically traverses the entire range of the instrument in rapid, repetitive patterns, actively disseminating the glockenspiel’s sustain, clicks, and interferences throughout the space. In doing so, the glockenspiel maps the unique acoustical characters of each space as each space helps to compose the piece.
Created in close collaboration with Trevor Saint, a rare (if not the only) specialist of experimental music for glockenspiel, Lucier has further enhanced the sophistication of this re-imagined instrument while maintaining his devotion to letting spaces speak.
Mixed and mastered by Matt Sargent at Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, New York. (For an optimal listening experience it is recommended that these recordings be played at high volume)."
Alvin Lucier – Ricochet Lady
"Black Truffle is honoured to present the first reissue of a true underground masterpiece, Massimo Toniutti’s Il Museo Selvatico (The Wild Museum), originally self-released on LP in 1991. Like his better-known brother Giancarlo (whose classic 1985 Broken Flag LP La Mutazione was reissued by Black Truffle in 2015), Massimo Toniutti was active in the vibrant underground industrial/noise scene of the 1980s, contributing to releases on legendary labels such as Broken Flag and RRR and self-releasing a series of cassettes between 1984 and 1988. Existing in a private world apart from the noise and dark industrial tropes of many of his contemporaries, Toniutti’s Il Museo Selvatico is an entirely singular work of domestic electro-acoustic exploration.
Made up primarily of what Toniutti calls ‘small and rare noises’ or sonic ‘knick-knacks’ recorded between 1987 and 1990, the five pieces that make up the original LP usher us into a crepuscular space populated by mysterious traces of everyday life. Toniutti weaves a loose net of distant clanks, dull thuds, metallic resonance and skittering percussive sounds, allowing the sounds to breathe against a backdrop of near-silent atmosphere. Although the haunted ambience recalls the work of contemporaries like Organum, Toniutti generally steers clear of long tones and drones, preferring to arrange brief, sometimes staccato sonic objects into patters of repeating figures and isolated events whose overall compositional shape remains somehow ungraspable. Although glimpses of recognisable location recordings and instrumental sounds can occasionally be made out, for most of the record the sources of the sounds we hear remain teasingly mysterious, an abstracted memory of everyday actions and atmospheres. l Museo Selvatico is accompanied here by an additional LP of material recorded at the same time, composed especially for this reissue into two side-long suites that inhabit the same haunted space as the original LP while occasionally making use of more maximal compositional strategies.
Black Truffle is pleased to return this overlooked masterwork to the world. Essential listening for fans of Organum, Nurse With Wound, Christoph Heemann, and the tradition of outsider musique concrète. Remastered at D&M, Berlin"
Il Museo Selvatico – Massimo Toniutti
Known to many through his collaborative works with Oren Ambarchi, crys cole, Kassel Jaeger, Klaus Lang, Joe Talia, and many others, this LP is Rushford’s first solo release in a decade and the very first he has composed, performed, and recorded entirely alone.
Primarily recorded in Los Angeles in 2017, The Body’s Night is a single electro-acoustic suite stretching over thirty minutes, utilizing field recordings, flutes, ocarina, microphones, organ, percussion, piano, tape, analog synthesizers, viola, and voice. True to its title, the record immediately ushers into a nocturnal, intimate, claustrophobic space where the hyper-amplified rustle of clothing and vocal mumbles are shadowed by uneasy synth tones, fluttering white noise and distant filigrees of ultra-high-pitched tones at the edges of aural perception. While the influence of contemporary composers such as Klaus Lang and Jakob Ullmann (both of whose music Rushford has performed extensively) makes itself felt in the music’s attention to the liminal space between sounds, Rushford also draws on the bedroom synth explorations of ’80s acts like DDAA and the harmonies and production values of black metal, drawing a common thread between these influences in terms of their shared interest in atmosphere and deliberate retreat from perspicuity. Relief from this claustrophobic atmosphere comes through the episodic structure of the piece, where like an already dark shot fading to black, each sequence retreats from your ears before you can properly grasp it.
Rushford uses classical electro-acoustic techniques and plays elegantly on the fundamental ambiguity of the acousmatic situation in which you can never be sure of the source of the sound you are hearing. But rather than a tribute to the masterworks of musique concrete, this is defiantly idiosyncratic and personal music. Meticulous in production values and exploratory in timbre, tonality and form, The Body’s Night is a key work from one of the most singular young composers at work today.
Stunning artwork by O.B. De Alessi. Design by Lasse Marhaug. Mastered for maximum fidelity by Rashad Becker at Dubplates & Mastering, Berlin.
James Rushford – The Body’s Night